PEOPLE who identify as trans or gender diverse will soon have better access to safe and inclusive health services in Ballarat.
Two inclusive clinics will be opened at existing community health service centres in Victoria, including in Ballarat and Preston, as part of an Australian-first initiative to provide equal healthcare services to trans and gender diverse Australians.
The two locations were chosen to participate in the initiative by the state government following a competitive tender led by Your Community Health.
Jane Measday, General Manager of Social Support at Ballarat Community Health, said the aim of the clinic was to provide safe and inclusive health services for the gender diverse community.
"Trans and gender diverse people are one of the most vulnerable groups in Victoria. People in that community experience high rates of stigma, discrimination, disadvantage and suicide," she said.
The clinics are part of a $3.4 million package delivered through the 2018-19 budget aiming to expand health services for trans and gender diverse Victorians.
The initiative will mean Ballarat Community Health can provide a range of new GP, specialist services and counselling, as well as provide key positions for transgender people.
"One of the key positions we will be recruiting for soon is what is called a peer navigator, who is a person with lived experience who can provide information and advice to people and their families about services," Ms Measday said.
The clinic is partnering with Austin Health so will be able to refer patients for specialist services like endocrinology.
The funding allows for Ballarat Community Health to purchase Allied Health Services as required and Ms Measday said one service they would be looking at was speech therapy.
Through the clinic, the community health centre - which is rainbow tick accredited - will provide training opportunities for partner organisations so they are able to better understand gender diversity and provide respectful services.
Ms Measday said the organisation would also be looking for businesses like clothing stores and hairdressers who patients can be referred to for a safe and welcoming experience.
"This is such a positive and exciting thing for our community. Our staff here are just so positive about the fact that we will be able to provide services for this group of people and for our community.
"There is certainly a lot of anticipation and hopefulness. We are very proud of what we have been able to achieve to bring this service into the community," she said.
The clinic will open later this year.